Vinyl composition tile that tested positive for asbestos is being removed from Elliott Hall Building A.
The renovation was ongoing as of press time. In an effort to maintain the health and safety of students, faculty and staff, the university works to identify, inspect and test all university buildings that have or may have asbestos-containing materials. Buildings constructed prior to 1980 may have asbestos-containing materials. These buildings include Hornsby, Burleson, Arnold and Laurel halls, among others.
Don Compton, Facilities Planning, Design and Construction associate director, said the fact that on-campus buildings have been made with asbestos-containing materials is not merely a rumor.
“While we are well aware of asbestos, that does not mean people are being exposed,” Compton said.
In Elliott Hall’s case, it is uncertain whether the building’s tile had been physically damaged or if the tile’s glue had become exposed. Kyle Estes, Housing and Residential Life associate director, said asbestos-containing materials have also been removed from Elliott Hall Building B in the past.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency lists vinyl floor tile and sheet flooring among common asbestos-containing materials.
Estes said initial campus-wide building asbestos testing began 10-15 years ago, and has been continuously updated since then.
Compton said there are testing reports for all on-campus buildings that have asbestos-containing materials.
Katie Eskridge, Texas State alumna, said she lived in Elliott Hall as a freshman.
“My parents moved me in and said something had to be wrong,” Eskridge said.
Eskridge said she was ill the entire time she lived in the dormitory, and was diagnosed with bronchitis for the first time. After spending time in and out of the doctor’s office, she said she was prescribed an inhaler to alleviate symptoms of bronchitis.
Eskridge said it was only after she moved from Elliott Hall to College Inn, where only minor health problems were experienced, did she begin to make a correlation between her previous illnesses and place of residence.
Eskridge said even though symptoms persisted for a month, she did not inform a hall staff member.
Compton said concerned residents should report any problems they believe have to do with the building to their hall staff.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, long-term asbestos exposure will increase a person’s risk of lung cancer and mesothelioma, among other respiratory disorders.
People are more likely to experience asbestos-related disorders when they are exposed to high concentrations of asbestos and/or are exposed for long periods of time.
Compton said asbestos-containing materials are only problematic when they are exposed or friable, meaning the substance can be broken into smaller particles with little effort, enabling them to easily enter a person’s lungs.
Compton said environmental factors have caused many asbestos-containing materials to deteriorate over time, making them friable.
Residence hall directors and assistants are supposed to report problems with asbestos-containing materials or presumed asbestos-containing materials, Compton said.
Louis Obdyke, labor and employment attorney, said in an email that annual asbestos inspections of dormitories are not required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
“The only time asbestos abatement and/or inspections are required is when there is construction, demolition or remodeling that may cause the asbestos to become friable or airborne,” Obdyke said.
Compton said asbestos abatement has already been completed by the time building demolitions have begun. He said an air quality sample is tested and public notices are placed around the demolition site by the regulatory agency the university hires.
“It costs more to demolish a building with asbestos-containing materials than to remove the materials first,” Compton said.
Estes said this was the situation when Falls Hall was demolished last year. He said asbestos-containing materials, such as ceiling grids, were safely removed prior to demolition.
Residents of any hall are asked to refrain from disturbing the ceiling, walls, floor spaces or tiles within hallways, common areas and rooms, and insulation on pipes.
Those who believe asbestos-containing materials have become damaged are asked to contact the Texas Stateor the Physical Plant.